7 Signs Your Cat Misses You at College


7 Signs Your Cat Misses You at College


Welcome, fellow pet lovers. Leaving for college can tug hard on the heartstrings, not just for us, but for our beloved feline friends as well. Today, I bring forward the subtle signs that reveal the soft paws of their affection reaching for us across the miles. As a cat owner and animal behavior enthusiast, I understand the imperative of detecting our pets’ emotions—it lets us sustain that treasured bond, regardless of the distance.

1. Increased Vocalization When You’re on Call

Your cat meows more frequently and emphatically during your calls, a manifestation of their recognition of your voice and a request for your attention. As a young academic but lifelong cat companion, I’ve felt the plaintive mews of my cat each time I answered my family’s calls. This sound, the echo of their need for interaction, doesn’t go unnoticed. To soothe their aching hearts, I’ve found solace in whispering tender words, assuring them of my return. And for the owners out there—remember, your voice is a caress from afar.

2. Unusual Over-Attachment to Your Belongings

Your cat might exhibit a deep attachment to your personal items as a way of coping with your absence. They seek the lingering scent that remains a silent testament to the bond you share. I remember finding Luna, my tabby, curled up in my left-behind sweater, her nose tucked into the folds—a heartwarming sight, yet a stark reminder of the emotional threads that tie us together. To ease their longing, consider leaving a worn shirt, steeped in your essence, a comfort amongst the solitude.

3. Changes in Appetite or Eating Habits

Appetite fluctuations could signal emotional distress in your cat. Consistency in a cat’s diet is often disrupted by the pangs of absence. Caregivers should keep an attentive eye, perhaps coaxing them with their favorite treats or adjusting mealtime routines to reduce their anxiety. In all my readings and practical experience, I’ve seen firsthand how maintaining that mealtime ritual serves as an anchor in a sea of change, providing stability in our feline friend’s lives.

4. Decline in Playful Behavior or Activity Levels

Cats may manifest their yearning through a noticeable dip in playfulness or their zeal for activities. Oliver, my childhood Siamese, would often bat at his feather toy with vigor, but during my first semester away, those animated moments dwindled. As recommended by experts, incorporating interactive toys and enlisting a caring friend to simulate those play sessions can inject a much-needed vitality back into their daily routine. It’s a reminder that joy can be reignited, even in our absence.

5. Excessive Grooming or Change in Grooming Habits

Your cat may groom excessively or not at all, which can indicate their stress or anxiety due to your absence. From my readings and personal journey with a once overly-grooming Persian, I learned that this repetitive behavior can be a balm for their stress but may lead to more pressing health issues. Implementing stress-relief techniques and providing an enriching environment can strike a balance in their solitary days—one that mirrors the equilibrium they find in your presence.

6. Altered Sleep Patterns

Altered sleep patterns in your cat might be reflective of their mood and the stress they’re undergoing. In the stillness of my dorm room, I often pondered if Whiskers was sleeping beneath the same silver sliver of moonlight. By maintaining a regular schedule through caregivers and using tools such as webcams, we can tenderly watch over their slumber, our virtual touch a whisper of assurance in their dreams.

7. Greetings Become More Intense When You Visit

Your welcoming home ceremony might be noticeably more passionate as your cat exhibits a change in behavior upon your return. Each trip back, I’m greeted with the unmistakable fervor of Bella, my rescue, her purrs louder, her nuzzles more insistent. As if aware of the temporal nature of my visits, she seizes every second, each action a declaration of her enduring love. This change in greeting is a profound expression of the emotional reunion cats and owners experience.

How can I maintain a bond with my cat while I’m away at college?

Preserving the emotional connection between you and your cat during your time away at college is pivotal for both you and your feline friend. Cats can form deep bonds with their owners, and maintaining that bond at a distance can be challenging yet imperative. Routine video calls can help, as your cat can hear your voice and sometimes see your face, which might provide some comfort. Another way to maintain the bond is through scent; leaving a worn piece of clothing behind can comfort your cat with your scent. Additionally, setting up scheduled playtimes with a trusted friend or family member can reassure your cat through continued engagement in activities they associate with you. Regular updates from the caretaker can also help you gauge your cat’s well-being and take action if needed.

What are the best ways to prepare my cat for my absence due to college?

Preparing your cat for your extended absence is crucial in mitigating stress and anxiety that may arise. Gradually acclimating your cat to longer periods of solitude can be beneficial. Start by leaving your cat alone for short periods and gradually increase the duration. Introducing your cat to the person who will be caring for them in your absence is also important. They should be someone your cat feels comfortable with, which can significantly reduce stress. Consider establishing a routine for your cat before you leave—including feeding, play, and cuddle times—that your caregiver can adhere to, as consistency provides a sense of security. Enrichment toys, such as puzzle feeders, can also help keep your cat occupied and mentally stimulated while you’re away.

What changes should I expect in my cat’s behavior when I leave for college?

When you depart for college, your cat may exhibit behavioral changes that signal their distress or confusion. It is not uncommon to notice alterations in their eating or grooming habits, which could be indications of stress or depression in cats. Some cats may eat less, while others might overgroom or neglect their grooming entirely. Your cat might also become more vocal, meowing more frequently or loudly as they seek your attention. Additionally, some cats may show signs of increased clinginess or neediness with other family members or caretakers, or alternatively, they may become more reclusive, hiding in quiet places to soothe themselves. Monitoring these changes can be essential in assessing your cat’s emotional state and determining if further care or intervention is needed.

Can cats experience separation anxiety, and how does it manifest?

Cats, despite their independent reputation, can indeed experience separation anxiety, which may become evident when their routine or environment changes, such as when an owner goes away to college. Signs of feline separation anxiety include excessive meowing, urinating outside the litter box, vomiting, or destructive behavior when left alone. Cats with separation anxiety may follow their caregivers more closely and become distressed when they prepare to leave. Prevention and management of separation anxiety may involve creating a comfortable and stimulating environment, with plenty of toys and safe spaces for your cat. Behavior modification techniques, desensitization, and, in some cases, seeking advice from a veterinarian or a cat behaviorist may be required to ease your cat’s anxiety.

These questions and the accompanying information offer a comprehensive perspective on the emotional needs of your cat and how to address them while you’re apart due to college commitments. Understanding and engaging with these considerations will not only help resolve current concerns but will also strengthen the relationship between you and your beloved pet.


Can cats experience separation anxiety when their owners leave for college?

Yes, cats can experience separation anxiety when their owners leave for an extended period, such as going to college. While cats are often seen as independent creatures, they can form strong bonds with their owners and may show signs of stress when separated.

How long does it take for a cat to forget its owner?

Cats have excellent long-term memories, especially when it comes to people they’ve bonded with. It’s highly unlikely for a cat to completely forget its owner, even after months or sometimes years of separation. However, their memory may be affected by age or changes in routine.

What can I do to maintain a bond with my cat while I’m at college?

Regular video calls, leaving behind a worn piece of clothing for your scent, and asking caregivers to maintain playtime and affection routines can all help maintain the bond with your cat while you’re away at college. Additionally, try to visit home when you can to reinforce the connection.

Should I adopt a new pet to keep my cat company while I’m away?

This depends on your cat’s personality and acceptance of other animals. Some cats may appreciate having another pet for company, while others may become stressed by the addition. It’s best to consider your cat’s temperament before making this decision.

How can I tell if my cat’s behavior changes are due to missing me or an underlying health issue?

Behavioral changes in your cat could indeed be a sign of missing you, but they can also indicate health problems. If you notice any behavior changes, it’s essential to have someone take your cat to a vet to rule out medical issues first.

Will my cat’s behavior return to normal when I return home from college?

Many cats will quickly revert to their normal behavior once their owner returns and they resume their regular routine. However, some cats may need a little time to readjust to your presence, especially if you’ve been away for a long time.

Is there a way to prepare my cat for my absence before I leave for college?

Gradually acclimating your cat to your absence can help ease the transition. Start by leaving your cat alone for short periods and gradually increase the duration. Ensuring they have a stable routine with a caregiver whom they trust can also mitigate stress.


In conclusion, our feline friends are more attuned to our comings and goings than they might outwardly show. While heading off to college is an exciting new chapter for students, it’s important to remember that the absence may have an emotional impact on your cat. Recognizing the signs that your cat misses you is a crucial step in maintaining the health and happiness of your pet during this transition. It’s equally important to find ways to alleviate their loneliness and maintain that special bond, even from afar. Remember, a little preparation and understanding can go a long way in ensuring your cat feels loved, even when you can’t be there physically.

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